In today’s world, environmental concerns are on the minds of many, especially among the environmentally-conscious Gen Z. Even amidst the challenges of a pandemic, the planet’s health remains a top priority for this generation. The good news is that you don’t have to break the bank to make a positive impact. We’ve gathered some practical ways for college students to help save the environment while also saving money. Let’s dive in!
Reduce Single-Use Plastic Waste
Jeremy Lewan, a meteorology student at Rutgers University, wisely reminds us that the key to preserving our planet is to reduce, reuse, and recycle. It’s easy to start by saying no to disposable utensils when dining on or off campus. Carry your reusable silverware or invest in a set of metal straws – an eco-friendly choice that can also lighten the load on your wallet. By avoiding takeout utensils, you’re helping restaurants save money, and these savings often translate into lower costs for customers. According to research from the Overbrook Foundation, U.S. restaurants spend a whopping $19 billion annually on take-out disposables. By adopting this simple habit, you not only contribute to reducing waste but also avoid the extra charges for plastic or paper bags by bringing your own reusable bags and refilling your water bottle.
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Find Alternative Transportation
Ditching the car, even partially, can be a significant money-saver. Many college campuses now offer bike-sharing programs, which are not only eco-friendly but also cost-effective. Biking reduces your carbon footprint and can save you money on gas, parking, insurance, and maintenance. Erica Solis, a linguistics student at Stony Brook University, decided to commute car-free and believes she’s saving a couple of thousand dollars in the process.
Extend the Life of Your Clothing
Did you know that not all clothing items need to be washed after every use? Consider Jeremy Campbell’s advice: jeans and certain other garments can go for weeks without a wash. By washing less frequently, you save water, detergent, and dryer ball usage. You can also opt for zero-waste laundry pods in recyclable packaging instead of large plastic containers of liquid detergent, reducing both plastic waste and carbon emissions.
Reduce Meat Consumption
Going fully vegan isn’t required, but cutting back on meat consumption can help you save money and reduce your carbon footprint. Meat is often the priciest part of a meal, and substituting with alternatives like tofu or dried beans can save you around $300 per year, according to average prices. Plus, the Environmental Working Group reports that meat production emits significantly more greenhouse gases compared to plant-based foods.
Embrace the Sharing Economy
Moving into a new dorm or apartment? Filling it with furniture doesn’t have to be a drain on your bank account or the environment. Explore social media platforms like Facebook Marketplace or local groups where people often give away or sell household items at affordable prices. You can also look for “Dump and Run” sales organized by some universities, which offer inexpensive, second-hand furniture and household items. This not only saves you money but also reduces the carbon emissions associated with manufacturing and transporting new items.
Turn Off the Lights
The simplest steps can often lead to significant savings. While most universities have automated light switches, it’s crucial to remember to turn off lights in places that don’t have these systems, such as off-campus apartments. Turning off lights may seem like a minor step, but it can save you money over time. And when you’re living in your own apartment after graduation, every penny counts.
Start implementing these eco-friendly and budget-conscious habits now. The sooner you begin, the sooner you’ll save money while making a positive impact on the environment. Remember, even small changes can collectively create a more sustainable and affordable future for all. So, let’s get started on this journey to a greener and more cost-effective lifestyle!